Monday, September 08, 2008

St. Francis de Sales, Sr. Mary Virginia, and Obama: Getting rid of the Fear!

((The following was inspired by a Borgmann-Family-email. My aunt Marian, an avid Hillary supporter in Nebraska, is writing specifically to my cousin Derrick, an avid Obama supporter in Colorado. Her question triggered my own tale from tonight in Minneapolis.)
How are you handling the ups and downs of the Colorado [presidential candidate] polls? Back when I was obsessed with this election, I made myself sick watching polls. I'm a recovering democrat now. -Marian
I'm back from the Visitation Monastery. (For those who don't know: I hang out a lot with nuns who sorta saved my life when I was teaching in North Minneapolis.)

Anywho. It's a Salesian Spirituality evening, and we are doing a little reflection/ meditation/ prayer work with some pithy passages of Francis de Sales (one of the founders of the Vis Sis's.)

Sr. Mary Virginia reads aloud this line,
"Remain in peace; rid your imagination of whatever troubles you."
Sr. Mary Virginia is in her early 70's. She speaks fluent Spanish, and comes from St. Louis. She has a new left knee. She says, "This phrase really speaks to me. I've been waking up with crazy fears of my imagination, and I just need to get RID of them!"

She pauses, and we are to move on in the group. But I have to ask, "Sr. Mary Virginia, can you give me an example of what makes you afraid?"

"Oh, Melissa, I keep imagining that Obama is going to lose the election. I wake up at 5 am, sick to my stomach."

I started laughing so hard and then squeezed her. I am glad to not be alone.

I love this woman. I love this room of 35 people: nuns and lay folk from the community and across town, who gather one night a month to get real in their faith and in how they try to keep fear and anxiety at bay, and trust God's in charge. We are all recovering "control freaks," I think.... :-)

Just passing this along....



Brian Mogren said...

This is great, Meliss! Thanks for sharing...

Catherine Mathenge said...

Hi! Melissa,

It is pretty funny when people talk how they discover that they are going through the same things and are not alone. That we all worry about the same stuff. Like you and Sr. Mary Virginia.

The media has been reporting, since the RNC ended, that the polls are showing that McCain has a slight lead over Obama. I have also had several Democrats, since the Palin speech, say to me that they are now concerned whether Obama is going to win.
After hearing this from several folks I finally said to one, "Oh ye of little faith!".

I am not saying that I haven't wavered a little myself, but I also came to the realization that this is all in God's hands anyway. It was in God's hands before the RNC when all the Democrats were high on Obama's acceptance speech, so sure that there was no way he could be defeated. It was in God's hands after Palin spoke. It has always been in God's hands.

Also, we must not forget that the media's poll reports are just guess-timates. Yup, I said guesstimate and not estimate, coz a lot of people don't realize that their polling is sometimes so unscientific it boggles the mind. I always wonder whenever I hear about any poll, 'who were they polling?', 'they certainly didn't ask me or my friends?'. And remember, if the media can create this frenzy of 'unsureness', then it's better for them. They keep and gain more viewers/readers. So please, don't buy into this media frenzy. They do it all the time. Remember after 9/11 when they were basically steering people into buying duct tape and bottled water. Do you ever wonder what people did with all the duct tape they bought!?! ... I do and I laugh. Maybe they duct taped their bottled water. Ha ha!

So, don't feed into the fear machine. Don't fall for the fear hype. This is just another view of its ugly head. The media does this all the time. The sensationalism. And remember, before the conventions it's not like the media was reporting that Obama was a gazillion points ahead of McCain, if you believe the poll numbers, which I don't. Even then they were reporting Obama was slightly ahead of McCain. (Again, I didn't believe it then, and I don't believe it now).

I know Obama is going to win. And when he wins, it will be by a big enough margin. But at that time the media will have moved on to their next fear game, hoping you've forgotten that, only a couple of months back, they were scaring you into believing that it was going to be a really close call.

Now more then ever, we need to stay focused on the goal. Keep praying/acting and know that the 'Change we believe in' will become a reality.

Have a blessed day!

Carolyn Sawyer said...

I, too, am praying each day that Obama wins, for many reasons.

I also have to tell you that I know Sr. Mary Virginia; I had her as a teacher. She also knows my daughter, Rose, whom she also taught. We see her occasionally
at events at St. Kate's. She does beautiful water color pieces, and some are sold thru events at St. Kate's. She is very inspiring and a beautiful person, almost always smiling.

A song that helps a bit is: "If You Believe and I Believe..."

Thanks and peace........

Sr. Joanna, VHM, England said...

Dear Melissa,

All of us (including the neighbors!) were up extra early as the demolition crew started at 6am to clear the remainder of the old after my first depth charge of coffee, and after a beautifully simple morning mass - despite the constant heavy rain, your message via Mary Virginia via Francis de Sales came as a timely reminder to me as I begin to navigate the Immigration pathway, and pray that the person who 'receives' me at the Embassy will be gracious!

So, yes, rising above fear takes some work, and alot of constant trust.....As the SDB priest at mass this morning said, the refrain from the Psalm: "The Lord takes delight in his people", may he delight in the ways in which we strive to increase our faith and hope amidst each of our concerns.

Hope you are well,



Tiffany Ingham Moore said...

Hey Meliss,

I must admit that I work daily to not become paralyzed by fear when I hear the recent polls. Thanks for this message. ;)


Stephanie Rutten said...


I LOVE this connection you have with the sisters and have to admit, I am a little jealous of your freedom to hang out with them. I miss the "sisterhood" of gathering with friends. You never cease to inspire me and I am glad God hasn't finished His plan for you so you can continue to be an integral part of my life and my being. Blessings and praise!!!!!!! : )

Pat Black said...

I am afraid too but not for what is in my imagination. I am afraid for what I see. I am afraid of men and women dressed like ninja turtles in flack jackets and riot gear painting new groups of people with yellow stars and pink triangles. I am afraid for the liberal democratic politicos who assure me that my perceptions are wrong I am not an innocent citizen trying to walk from one place to another. If I find a bicycle, a nightstick or the barrel of rifle aimed at me it is because I am a criminal with ill intent. I am afraid because no one is speaking about the military occupation of my city. I am afraid because those who speak against are silenced and the only voices that get through are the thank yous for them safe against the fears of their imaginations. I am afraid when people speak in euphemisms and can't hold a complicated thought in their heads. I am afraid that the train has already left the station and that there is no way to get it back without the people recovering their ability to question and ponder. I am afraid that it doesn't matter whether Obama wins that the time for Crystal Nachts is upon us. I am afraid that it will take 50 years and people reading about it in history books to name what is happening now, as we accept the militarized response to voices. I am afraid of fascists.
Some fears are not imagined.

Jeff Pearson said...

Thanks for the great wake up thoughts and laughs.

(your former neighbor and Salesian friend)

Maryann Pearson said...

You captured it exactly!! That's why you are supposed to be writing!!!!!
Love to you- Maryann